Peter out

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has announced his intention to retire as of Thursday. He will hand the reins to long-established heir presumptive Anna Bligh, who will follow Carmen Lawrence and Joan Kirner to become Australia’s third female premier. This means a by-election looms in Beattie’s seat of Brisbane Central. While this is hard to get excited about (it is all but certain that the Liberals will not field a candidate), it’s interesting to note that Beattie’s margin fell from 25.0 per cent to 19.6 per cent in 2004 and then to 14.8 per cent in 2006. Of greater interest is the symbolism involved in two state premiers recently deciding to quit while at the top of their game, and the contrast presented by the present incumbent of The Lodge.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

446 comments on “Peter out”

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  1. This will frustrate Howards attack on the State ALP. The Q’ld state govt was likely to be a big target in the campain. How he will have to deal with a new leader in a Honeymoon period.

    Not to mention the emphasis on the folly of Howard clinging to power long after his use-by date.

  2. I don’t think it really channges much. Rudd can point out that the federal government is even paying for a referendum to be held in a council that ISN’T being amalgamated, surely a waste of money.

  3. Beattie must be just about the canniest and most effective politician we have had in Australia since Menzies. He could even apologise for governmental and internal party behaviour bordering on the corrupt in a manner that actually won him support rather than lost it!

    We probably won’t see his like again for quite a while.

  4. The last newspoll had state labor on 51% primary vote in Qld. The honeymoon with Anna Bligh will increase this.

    Can only help Labor in Qld.

  5. [This woman is going to be as hopeless as Carmen or Joan.]

    Why do you think that?

    [Good luck to him. He seems a very decent man, very personable and he clearly knows the power of quitting while you’re ahead.]

    The word “personable” cracks me up, mainly because it is the word David Letterman uses to describe Paris Hilton. 😛

  6. Why were Carmen and Joan even brought up? Because they’re women that have been Premiers?

    Why Brumby became Premier we didn’t get people saying… He’s going to be as hopeless as (*inster name of previous male Premiers*) just because they were men.

    I love it how everyone always says Beattie is ‘on the nose’ yet his polling figures are through the roof.

  7. Excellent move on Beattie’s part, and a job well done. his departure after nine years contrasts nicely with JWH’s ‘eleven years and past it’ look.

    While JWH could have gone at Beattie with a vengeance he’ll have to be very careful attacking Bligh, a much-younger-than-he-is woman, brand new to the job.

    If he does attack her he might get another lesson in ‘Fair Go’ ….

  8. in the Federal sphere this does not run well for Howard. The implication that he is part of an old Government, and should have retired last year while on top is definitely there after Carr, Bracks and Beattie.

    However, will this make him more likely to retire now? No – but I guess he already ruled that out earlier today. More interestingly will this give those within the Lib Party more ground to force a challenge or enforce a tap on the shoulder for the PM? Don’t know, but really doesn’t look good with him still holding on, and on, and on…

  9. The other factor to note, of course, is that it will be difficult for the State Opposition to attack the govt because there will most probably be sympathy toward Bligh when things get worse (like the dam levels at Wivenhoe) – instead of anger, you’ll just as likely see a reaction of “oh, poor Anna, it’s not her fault but she has to deal with the mess”

  10. Another thought on the federal sphere, any APEC outcomes other than the revelation of the NSW Police force’s hatred of accountants, will now be quickly forgotton in the media. Otherwise climate change compact, whether good or bad, probably would have run another couple of days, but now Beattie and the Fed Lib leadership questions will simply dominate the media

  11. CTEP: Thanks, I hate comments like the one ruawake said. Whether someone is male or female, white or not, it total BS. Anna got there because she has been that Deputy Premier for 2 years, and has been in ministerial positions since 98.

  12. I think it will be an interesting week in the qld ALP party room. While Beattie has anointed Bligh she is still from the Left in what is probably the state with the most divided factional system.

    I don’t believe that the Right will just let her have premier without a fight, no matter what Beattie wants.

  13. Attacking women in politics is a great game of long tradition and standing. And as Labor is brought in to fix up coalition failures, the women Labor premiers seem always to have to clean up the boys mess. Their less than spectacular re-election record probably has a lot more to do with this than it has to do with their quality in the jobs.

  14. The tap on the shoulder thing won’t work with Mr. Howard. If he wants to stay – he will stay. If they tap him and politely suggest he leaves… and he politely declines… what then? “Mr. Howard – you will leave or else!” Or else what? A leadership challenge – a spill – a couple of days spent in speculating, nasty backstabby comments in the media – a party room vote and _then_ a new leader or Howard back again. And _then_ an election campaign?

    This would make the federal Liberal Party look more like the Heaven’s Gate… images of cabinet arranged on bunkbeds in their brand new, white, nike sneakers. Or to press the poor taste one point further… it would become known as the Johnstown Massacre… “pass the Kool-Aid Tony…me old sunshine…”

  15. the women Labor premiers seem always to have to clean up the boys mess.

    That’s the truth. The girls get to clean up after the boys have stuffed up.

  16. I think I can almost forgive Mr Beattie for the amalgamations mess now. Did he have this in mind all the while, to retire pre Federal election and let the air out of the amalgamation balloon ?

    Clever man Mr Beattie, salute !!

    That makes three State Labor Premiers that have retired on top of their game (Carr/Bracks/Beattie). Sure he made some errors, but who hasn’t. Gallup had to retire, but Carpenter made the transition work. Wonder if Rann is thinking about pulling the pin too.

    Meantime, the air has been let out of the Amalgamations issue to an extent in Queensland and the Coalition will have less mud to toss around re the State Government.

    Time for a cup of tea and a good book Mr Beattie : 9/10 overall.

  17. Beattie has been one of the greats here in BrisVegas – never afraid to tell it like it is, admit a mistake and then fix the damn thing. Now if we can get federal guys to do the same.

    As for Anna Bligh, she will be fine – Beattie’s apprentice for quite a while so knows how to govern.

    What this means for Labor federally is a double edged sword however. We go to a comparatively little known Bligh at state level and ask to switch to Rudd federally. Too much of a change thing for Qlders to deal with? Maybe the scare campaign of inexperience will gain some traction for the Coalition over the coming weeks.

  18. Anna Bligh is an extremely competent politician, she will run rings around the opposition, she is a great performer in parliament.

    Premier “Teflon” Pete has given her the treasury and infrastructure jobs which she has handled well. She will be a great Premier. 🙂

  19. Bligh is a feral socialist left-winger, in the style of Kirner and Lawrence.

    The QLD ALP will mutiny before the next State election.

  20. Oh and on the Howard link, Howard just needs to come out and say the state premiers work really hard on policy and service delivery, two things that have never bothered a liberal pm!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. “The other factor to note, of course, is that it will be difficult for the State Opposition to attack the govt because there will most probably be sympathy toward Bligh when things get worse (like the dam levels at Wivenhoe) – instead of anger, you’ll just as likely see a reaction of “oh, poor Anna, it’s not her fault but she has to deal with the mess”

    Don’t remember there being much “Poor Joan Kirner” in 1992….

  22. I don’t think the current situation for the ALP and the government is Queensland is exactly comparable to the situation in Victoria in 1992…

    If you want a more appropriate comparison, look at how Iemma managed to run away successfully from the Carr legacy and win this year’s election.

  23. Anna Bligh’s gender has nought to do with her capacity to do a good job as a State Premier. That kind of cheap shot typifies how backward some people’s thinking is. This is 2007, not 1907.

    Wake up Rupert, and, by the way, Kirner and Lawrence were not as “hopeless” as the future of politics of this country if people like you try to drag us back to the glass ceiling.

  24. Pete and Heather had dinner with Kevin and Therese last night, I wonder what advice Pete had for Kevin?

    Oh to be a fly on the wall.

  25. raise your glasses to the greatest Premier that Australia has ever seen,
    And I am not even a Queenslander,

    The only bone I have to pick with Peter Beatie is that he wont be entering Federal politics,
    Australia would benefit greatly if we had a Beatie Treasurer

  26. [Bligh she is still from the Left in what is probably the state with the most divided factional system.]

    Can you elaborate how exaclty how it is divided?

  27. Will be honestly sorry to see Beattie go, mainly for the fact that I thought everything he said he really did mean (probably not true, but shows how good he was). Plus I ran into him at the bottle shop once and we drink the same beer…endearing quality indeed 🙂

    On the bright side, I may very well be living in the Premier’s electorate AND the Prime Ministers electorate if Bligh and Rudd get up

    Grooski at #22 you may be right…things like this may play right into the Federal Libs “lack of experience” argument…Bligh, Brumby, Carpenter, Rudd….they’ll say you need us federally to prevent this bunch of rookies destroying the country.

  28. “News diary
    The 7.30 Report: Host Kerry O’Brien talks to Prime Minister John Howard and Qld Premier Peter Beattie about their futures.”

    From ABC News website. should be interesting or may be not.
    Howard: i am not going anywhere
    Beattie: I’ll have some time off, may be join Bracksie in East Timor

    May be howard can become the next Ambassador to Iraq, given that it is such an important place for Australia, apparently. I am sure Kevin wouild approve that posting (so would costello, probably)


  29. Tin Tin strikes again; how it’s done…
    Tuckey scoffs a bottle of Bundy & heads for the party room;
    Amalgamtion neutralised…
    PB runs Rudd Inc in Q or ACT? Is Shergold calling the Removalists too?

  30. [May be howard can become the next Ambassador to Iraq, given that it is such an important place for Australia, apparently.]


  31. [Bligh will be elected leader unopposed, the deal has already been done, this is how things are done in a real political party.]

    Who will be deputy?

  32. I guess the Right will want the treasurer position and have that person anointed as the deputy (that would be the deal to allow Anna to become Premier). I’m not sure who can take that on, since I’m down here in Vic.

  33. I would have thought the Opposition {Rupert} were hardly in a position to talk about problems within the ALP in Queensland given their situation at present, even Seeney can’t remember what they stand for anymore.

  34. Oh, just reread my post, it sounds like I would do it. Far from that! I meant I don’t know who is in the QLD parliament since I live here in Vic.

  35. It’s a lesson to the Libs in renewal really.

    Two successful Labor State Premiers have now quit while at the top of their game in recent months, leaving their successors a chance to renew their parties and Governments and, hopefully, to set themsleves-up for the next State elections.

    Contrast this with the Federal Libs: Howard clutching the Prime Ministership to his chest like the dusty, desiccated old mummy from movies of that name.

    He wanders through the halls of power, followed by the stench of decay and a cloud of flies, dragging bits of rotted bandage after him. And no-one in the Libs has the balls to put a stake through him (or whatever it is they do to put-down mummies).

    Our greatest PM ever eh? He ought to change his name to Imhotep and bugger-off back to Hamunaptra.

  36. I think this is good for Howard. An organisation loses enough people it sometimes values the ones it has left… also, say what you will, but some (crazy) people in QLD may be threatened by a younger woman running their state.

    Also, Beattie had the common touch, QLD Labor will probably be worse off in the polls without him.

    From Victoria, I really liked Beattie … but I also like Bligh, so damn you QLD for having better politicians (you’ve also got Bartlett and Joyce!)

  37. I wonder if Beattie’s one-hour chat with Rudd last night was about the timing of his announcement, whether he wanted Rudd’s view on whether he should step down now or wait till after the election. I’m sure RUdd would have agreed that now was perfect timing, partly because of the amalgamations issue, and partly because of the contrast with Howard.

    I do agree, though, with someone else here, who suggested the Libs might accuse Bligh of “inexperience”, and argue that, therefore, leadership stability needs to be maintained at the Federal level.

    I think Rudd’s cameo at APEC will stop a lot of people from thinking that HE’S too inexperienced to lead. He certainly looked like a world leader to me. I think foreign affairs will come easily to him, as he’s trained in it. Rudd’s real challenges will be on things like running the economy.

  38. Comparing Bligh to Lawrence and Kirner is pretty pointless. They both took over governments which were clearly already terminal, and had very little hope of turning things around, although Lawrence did a pretty good job of doing so. Bligh inherits a government on top in the polls and facing a totally hopeless opposition. With Beattie and his accumulated baggage gone, she should get a decent honeymoon which can only help Rudd, and then she can call an election next year and become the first woman to win a state election.

    Is there any suggestion that Beattie might be about to go federal at the last minute? I doubt Rudd would welcome that, but who knows?

  39. Rupert #24 and #43 is so wrong it’s laughable. I’ve seen her address business functions for the biotechnology industry a number of times and she has them completely eating out of her hand. And whatever else the Qld ALP is (I can think of a number of things), it is not completely stupid. She’s a winner, that one.

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